Romance lost from adaptation

Romance lost from adaptation

June 18, 2010
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by Lai Ying-Kit

This adaption of Audrey Niffenegger's best-selling novel The Time Traveller's Wife attempts to paint a dark picture of a tragic love, but with a flat storytelling fails to leave the audience with a lingering emotion.

The story centres on the love between the time traveller, Chicago librarian Henry DeTamble (Eric Bana), and his long-suffering artist wife Clare Abshire (Rachel McAdams).

Henry suffers from a genetic disorder that causes him to disappear without warning and travel through time and space. On one such journey, a middle-aged Henry meets a six-year-old Clare and tells her they are destined to be together.

Like last year's The Curious of Benjamin Button, The Time Traveller's Wife explores what peculiarities could occur if time could be twisted. The adaption of the 2003 novel tries to present a dark, poignant view of human nature: we have no power to change our fate, even if we are able to go back in time and change our futures.

Unfortunately, the story that sold millions in book form is relayed in a rather flat and predicable way throughout its 107 minutes. It seems as if the filmmakers show Henry time-travelling just for the sake of it - the trips are too frequent and exhaust the audience without offering recompense in the form of plot development.

There were potentially far more opportunities for the filmmakers to delve into Niffenegger's distressing view of human nature and intensify the emotional pull. But the film's tension is diluted when they opt to offset the tragic romance with humour, such as when Henry shows the advantage of time travel - he can win a US$5 million lottery because he already knows the winning numbers.

The film is directed by Robert Schwentke, who helmed the far grittier Flightplan, and adapted by Bruce Joel Rubin, who also wrote the screenplay for another mushy movie, Ghost, which possibly explains this movie's lack of backbone.

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